Raising Youth Voice on Policy Through Debate

Raising Youth Voice on Policy Through Debate

Kigali, RwandaKigali, Rwanda
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$500,000 - $1 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

AJPRODHO is a non-profit, student-formed NGO working to improve the enjoyment of rights for youth and children in Rwanda.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Despite over 67% of Rwanda’s population being under the age of 35, their participation in policy conception, formulation, and implementation remains minimal. Many youth have become hopeless due to absence of enabling policy decisions to address their core problems such as unemployment, limited access to higher education and vocational training, and the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Meanwhile, youth have traditionally remained very submissive and fearful of engaging authority, due to 30 years of dictatorship and totalitarianism, including a government sponsored genocide in 1994, along with having limited government education systems to teach them how to properly conduct policy change, thus creating a culture with almost no youth voice in government.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

This project will focus on scaling up the culture of debate in secondary schools initiated by AJPRODHO since 2007/2008, especially to rural schools. This will specifically be accomplished by focusing more on policy debate, so that these students are nurtured into active citizens of tomorrow. Policy debate shall greatly boost the interest amongst students to learn more on different policies, and even identify existing gaps in terms of policy to trigger debate for their enactment. Students shall be equipped with the relevant tools and skills to research, intelligently discuss, and critically analyze different policies as well as the ability to present ideas in a clear, organized and professional manner, thus assisting them in future political advocacy.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Our project model shall be implemented in 10 pilot Secondary Schools, 5 from Kigali City and 5 from the more rural Eastern Province. From here we will select 2 students and one teacher from each school, who we will teach debate methodology and advocacy during a three-day training seminar. We will use this foundation in order to start debate clubs in each school, with each in charge of organizing monthly debates on policy issues, as well as one inter-secondary school debate tournament. Overall, this should result in students’ views on different policy issues being raised and forwarded to decision makers through policy briefs generated through debates and endorsed to different stakeholders, along with initiating discussions with relevant institutions to promote policy debate in secondary schools. Subsequently, this debate program should help improve students’ political will and efficacy, as they learn about the government system, and how to negotiate it to a greater extent, within a safe, educational environment.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

We do not have competitors as such, but rather partners on similar issues. An example of this would be Never Again Rwanda, as a local CSO that also organizes debates in secondary schools. In order to avoid duplication of schools, we have a joint committee to select which schools each organization should work with, along with discussing which policies have worked and which have failed with each school. There has been no challenge with this yet.
About You
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name


Organization Country

, KV, Kigali

Country where this project is creating social impact

, KV, Kigali

Your role in Education


The type of school(s) your solution is affiliated with

Public (tuition-free)

How long has your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

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How long has your solution been in operation?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Now that you have thought out your entry, help us pitch it.
Define your company, program, service, or product in 1-2 short sentences [136 characters]

AJPRODHO is a non-profit, student-formed NGO working to improve the enjoyment of rights for youth and children in Rwanda.

Identify what is innovative about your solution in 1-2 short sentences [136 characters]

We create an environment where youth become empowered to both educate and advocate for themselves.

Social Impact
What has been the impact of your solution to date?

Since we started this project in 2007, we have seen a significant increase in both political awareness and efficacy among youth participants. Students have begun to take a more active role in local governance and politics as they have learned how to peacefully and effectively advocate for themselves, thus taking away some of their previous fears of engaging with authority. Along with this, students have learned how to provide clear and easily accessible information to their fellow youth, as they write articles for AJPRODHO’s bi-monthly magazine concerning those political issues that most interest and affect them. This project has also allowed us a greater insight into the needs of youth in Rwanda, thus giving us direction in which to focus our activities.

What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?

Over the next one to three years, we expect to see a continued growth in student awareness and advocacy, as each school continues with their debate programs, while we focus on expanding this program to even more schools, thus reaching increasingly more youth. Similarly, the expertise among educators should grow during this time period, as they gain experience in teaching students debate. Along with this, we expect an increase in the number of youth-focused magazines available in Rwanda, as these students build their journalizing skills and realize the importance of creating awareness among their fellow citizens.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

Keeping the schools motivated to continue with their debate programs after the initial six-month period provides our biggest barrier to the continued success of this project. However, this should be easily overcome as we keep in constant contact with the school, providing occasional funding support and lobbying for the continuation of this program. Along with this, the increased national presence these programs should create for these schools, as they win inter-school competitions and gain recognition, should help build a positive reputation around these schools and incentivize them to keep the debate programs in place.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

Identification and training of students from 10 secondary schools.

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

Identification of 10 pilot secondary schools for debate programs.

Task 2

Updating training curriculum.

Task 3

Conducting a three day training seminar for one teacher and two students per school.

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

Getting students' voices heard by policy makers.

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

Organizing monthly debates for each school, along with a two day inter-school debate competition.

Task 2

Supporting students to package their policy briefs to decision makers.

Task 3

Organizing advocacy/lobbying sessions with the Ministry of Education to support debate clubs in secondary schools.

Founding Story: We want to hear about your "Aha!" moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution's potential to change the world [125 words]

Every day at AJPRODHO we deal with disenfranchised youth who feel as though they have absolutely no say in local politics and governance, especially due to the history of Rwanda. As such, we are constantly searching for new ways to help promote political efficacy and awareness among youth. Meanwhile, debates on policies have long been recognized as being an important tool for informing youth on policies, along with having them actively participate in the entire governance process. Due to this, it did not take much of a leap of mind to go from our more humanitarian rights focus, to attempting to empower youth to advocate for themselves with the formation of local secondary school debate programs.

Tell us about your partnerships

With this project specifically, we are funded by the Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) and the European Commission. However, some other partners fund other related project, for example, Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), which supports a project to strengthen youth to monitor and evaluate service delivery.

What type of team (staff, volunteers, etc.) will ensure that you achieve the growth milestones identified in the Social Impact section? [75 words]

In order to achieve our milestones, we will have a small, dedicated group of staff members. At the top will be our Project Coordinator, who will oversee the entire project, making sure that all is running smoothly and reporting back to headquarters. Then we will have a professional debate educator to teach debate methodology to the students and teachers. Finally, we will have ten teachers, one from each school, who will be responsible for carrying out the day-to-day administration of the debate clubs, along with supervising and educating the students further on debate.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list

We could use information and mentorship on various methodologies of debate to teach the students, as our program currently only focuses on the Karl Popper debate format.